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Lautenberg Co-Sponsors Bill to Increase Minimum Wage

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg today (D-NJ) joined Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) as an original co-sponsor in introducing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 to support working families.

"This legislation would help raise working families out of poverty and support local economies by helping workers earn more money to spend on food, clothes, and other necessities," said Senator Lautenberg. "Today's minimum wage is at a historic low, and this legislation would provide a needed boost to hard-working Americans. There's no reason that people in New Jersey and across the country who hold full-time jobs and work hard to improve their situation should still find themselves unable to make ends meet and provide for their families."

The "Fair Minimum Wage Act," introduced in the Senate today, would increase the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over three incremental 95-cent increases. After these increases, the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation to keep minimum wage workers in step with the economy. The bill would also increase the minimum wage for tipped workers over a longer period of time at annual 95-cent increases, from $2.13 per hour to an adjusted level equal to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour translates to just $15,080 per year for a full-time worker, and the federal minimum wage for tipped workers -- $2.13 per hour -- has not increased in more than 20 years. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage.

New Jersey law currently requires the same minimum wage as federal law for both regular and tipped workers, so this bill would have an impact on the pay of those earning minimum wages in New Jersey. In January 2013, Governor Christie vetoed a bill passed by both the State Senate and General Assembly that would have increased the New Jersey minimum wage to $8.50 on March 1, 2013, and would have thereafter automatically provided annual cost-of-living increases indexed to the Consumer Price Index. After the New Jersey legislature passed a resolution to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, New Jersey voters are now slated to decide in November whether to enact these increases to the minimum wage.

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